Wednesday Dec 15, 2010

Hardware Managment Pack's CLI Tools

When I speak to customers regarding the configuration, setup, or recovery of new and existing systems, one of the most popular toolsets we provide for them is contained in the Hardware Management Pack (HMP). I've blogged briefly on the Hardware Management Pack before and now we are up to release 2.1 thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit it and talk a little more in-depth about the CLI tools.

The CLI tools run across all Oracle's supported Operating Systems on our SunFire x86 platforms: Solaris, Linux, and Windows Server 2008. In addition fwupdate also runs on Solaris SPARC. The tools can logical be divided into 2 groups: Configurators and the Updater.

The Configurators

As their name implies the configurators do exactly that, configuration. They allow users to list, set, dump, and restore the configuration of the major firmware components on Oracle's Sun Fire x86 Servers:

  • biosconfig
  • raidconfig
  • ilomconfig

All these tools work from the host OS and function in a similar way with common verbs and syntax that enables administrators to quickly master them and greatly simplify the automation and configuration of Sun Fire servers. The names are, hopefully, self explanatory. All tools are script friendly by design and support -q --quiet and -y --yes flags.

Each tool also supports the reading and writing of XML based configuration files which are reusable across systems. The XML input/output is a very powerful feature. This now gives the administrator the ability to create Golden Master configurations, perhaps optimized by platform type and workload and also to dump out, backup, and restore known good configurations.

It also enables the administrator to create a family of bite sized XML configuration files which are then passed in sequential calls to the tools allowing them to tune a system "to taste". For example one file could set the IP address of the service processor, the second file the boot order, and the third file the state of hyper-threading. So basically the administrator can build a library of these and can dynamically combine to set up each system optimally.

All this is clearly documented in the comprehensive documentation, however let's just take a quick look at how we might change the service processors network address using biosconfig:

First we check the IP addressing mode for the SP

# biosconfig -get_ilom_network_config <BIOSCONFIG>

However rather than dhcp we'd prefer to set this statically so we now load bisoconfig with an XML file containing the configuration contained in foo.xml (use -set_ilom_network_config flag ).

# biosconfig -set_ilom_network_config foo.xml
# cat foo.xml

Typically to create these files the administrator would dump the relevant section, or the entire configuration, into XML and then create the templates to read back from this source.

We ourselves use these tools within Oracle's own products such as Oracle Hardware Installation Assistant.

The Updater

In addition to the configuration tools we also have a new firmware updating tools, fwupdate. This is a firmware updater that addresses the firmware updating of the following components:
  • Disk drives (spinning media and Flash drives)
  • HBA and embedded storage controllers, SAS1 and SAS2
  • LSI SAS expander devices, SAS1 and SAS2
The preferred way to use fwupdate is automatically when it uses an XML metadata file for the platform and drivers. In addition should this tool supports a manual mode. Again this is also clearly documented in the Oracle Server CLI Tools and IPMItool User'sGuide available in the documentation set.

Tuesday Mar 09, 2010

Two updated 3rd party Integrations: CA Unicenter & Altiris DS

With all the excitement and changes associated with the Oracle acquisition of Sun I've been negligent to update the status of some of our ISV Integrations. First we updated our CA Unicenter integrations to 2.2which offers an extensive list of both x86 and SPARC CMT platforms On the provisioning front we also updated Altiris DS to 1.1 and extended the support to more platforms.

Wednesday Jan 20, 2010

New Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.3

The latest version of the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack (1.3) is now available and is packed with more goodies and broader support than ever. If you are not familiar with the free Management Pack for Sun's X64 servers now is a good time to download and try it out. The Pack is divided into 2 main components. The Sun Server Management Agents component, which provides an SNMP agent for monitoring Sun server hardware and storage, and the Sun Server CLITools component, which configures the host boot order and BIOSCMOS settings. The SNMP Agent offers in-band monitoring support which I described previously and it has its own comprehensive manual. It has now been enhanced to support more operating systems than ever, the big new addition in this release Windows Server 2003 & 2008 support:
  • Solaris 10
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 & 5, 32-bit & 64bit
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 & 5, 32-bit & 64bit
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, 64-bit
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, 64-bit
  • VMware ESX 3.5
  • Windows 2003 SP1/SP2
  • Windows 2003 R2 SP1/SP2
  • Windows 2008 SP1/SP2
A more detailed matrix can be found here. The big news on the CLI front is the addition of the new BIOSconfig utility that supports the wide range of operating systems above, with the exception of VMware ESX 3.5. BIOSconfig is worthy of an entry in its own right, which it will get in time, and is documented fully but just to introduce it capabilities: BIOSconfig can be used to to get current configuration settings or set configuration settings. When used to get configuration settings, BIOSconfig generates XML output showing the configuration. When used to set configuration settings, BIOSconfig reads XML input describing the configuration settings to be made. Download the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.3 and Documentation

Wednesday May 27, 2009

Introducing the new Sun x86 SNMP Hardware Monitoring Agent

I thought now it would be a good opportunity to introduce the newly released Sun x86 SNMP Hardware Monitoring Agent found in the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.0 to discuss its functions and high-level architecture. First what is the function of this agent? Basically it is a host-based (i.e. in-band) SNMP hardware monitoring agent for Sun x86 servers. In the 1.0 release, the Sun Server Hardware Management Pack can provide:
  • Monitoring of environmental sensors
  • Inventory and presence of FRUs
  • Status of system indicators
  • Trap notifications for all sensor-related events

This enables Sun x86 systems to provide SNMP monitoring from the host OS to anything that can consume SNMP which is basically the vast majority of the Monitoring Systems out there in use. This agent is not yet utilized by xVM OC (Ops Center) as that is already highly integrated with Sun platforms via both IPMI and SSH and can easily monitor, control, and provision Sun ILOM (and also ELOM, ALOM and RSC) based systems.

Platform Support: Current Sun x86 ILOM server platforms. Since this agent installs within the host Operating system it does not support the Blade Chassis Management Modules (CMM):

  • Solaris x86
  • Sun supported Red Hat and Novell Linux distributions
  • VMware ESX 3.5
  • Microsoft Server 2003 (Q3CY09)
  • Microsoft Server 2008 (Q3CY09)
Architectural Overview

This new agent provides in-band monitoring to complement the existing out-of-Band monitoring provided by ILOM itself. This is really a question of choice rather than there being a correct approach, some users like out-of-band monitoring over private management LANs direct to ILOM whilst others prefer in-band communication with agent(s) in the host OS. We know that a significant proportion of users do not connect Service Processors to the network. In addition users may already utilize other monitoring agents on the host OS so it may be the preferred point of monitoring.
There are 2 fundamental components plus the KCS driver that provides a path to ILOM from the host OS:, a daemon hwagentd and the SNMP agent itself.
First the hwagentd daemon's role: As illustrated in the figure above. hwagentd polls ILOM via IPMI over the KCS driver for events that it then communicates to the SNMP agent (and potentially any other future agents for example WS-MAN). In addition it can write events to syslog. The hwagentd polls every 30 seconds and caches the data. In the future hwagentd due to its architecture can also call other libraries/utilities, thus extending both it's own functionality and as well as the functionality of ILOM.

The agent supports a pair of MIBs (Management Information Base) SUN-HW-MONITORING-MIB defines the SNMP GET interface and SUN-HW-TRAP-MIB defines the SNMP Traps (event / alert) generated by the agent for  net-snmp and can both receive and request events from the daemon. The agent does not itself communicate directly with ILOM but rather makes calls via hwagentapi and reads the hwagentd cache. It can then propagate these events to an external management platform or tool or respond to SNMP trap requests. Key features of the agent include:
  • SNMP Interface – Obviously! Still the de facto system/network management protocol
  • Support for AgentX – Allows for flexible configuration of the OS agents and improved co-existence with other agents.
  • Trap interface – This allows for event-based integrations with ISV applications.
  • Identical sensor names as the SP – Consistent naming not only presents a more unified product but also improves serviceability
  • Logical grouping of information in MIB by device type – The information in the MIB will be presented in logical groups that present an organized view of the hardware system.
  • Aggregated status information – The ability to have rolled-up status for all sensors and groups of sensors by device type will allow ISV integrations and users to quickly detect if there is an error in the system.
  • LED State - state of system LEDs visible
What about ILOM based SPARC Platforms?

This agent complements what we already offer for SPARC, specifically MASF (Management Agent for Sun Fire). The MASF agent is an SNMP agent that runs on Solaris SPARC and exposes the SUN-PLATFORM-MIB. On ILOM-based platforms it communicates with ILOM by a somewhat different architecture than that shown above. It has extensive SPARC platform support including: T Series (including Uniboard), V125 to V445, Netra 210, 240, 440. Details here:
What Next?

Most immediate on the roadmap is Sun Server Hardware Management Pack 1.1:
  • ILOM 3.0 Support
  • Red Hat EL 4.0 Support
Then in the near term, Q3CY09, Windows Server support is the next big add. Also we will see increasing support of the agentry within our own 3rd party System Management Integrations. Over time we will release a new WS-MAN agent enabling us to support CIM (Common Information Model), which is seeing growing support particularly in the Windows and VMware world.

Where Can I Learn More?

Friday Sep 12, 2008

Microsoft Integration Updates posted

The Sun ISV integration team have been busy lately with upgrades to their Microsoft integrations and have posted them to Sun's 3rd party Integration page.

Thursday Jul 17, 2008

Sun Integration 1.0 for Microsoft SCOM 2007

Sun's ISV Integration team have added their second integration around Microsoft, MOM 2005 being the first, with the addition of one for SCOM 2007. Expect to see this being kept current and new platforms being added going forward. Keep an eye on the third party integration page as we update it frequently.

Sun Installation Assistant adds 2 more platforms

If you are installing Windows or Linux on a Sun platform then you should probably be using SIA. Sun Installation Assistant.
We have just added SIA support for both Linux and Windows for another 2 popular Sun platforms:

Monday Jul 07, 2008

xVM News - get it from the horses mouth: Virtual Steve

For the increasing installed base of xVM Ops Center if you don't already track xVM's VP Steve Wilson's blog you should. Today for example he announces several new articles.

If you're not part of the installled base, that can be fixed easily, starting here.

Monday Jun 16, 2008

Sun 3rd party Integration site updated

If you use 3rd party tools to manage your Sun servers there are 2 things you should be doing:
  1. Check the xVM Ops Center page for Sun's own solution
  2. Check the Sun 3rd party integration page regularly
We've just given the 3rd party page a bit of a tidy though no new integrations since the recent IBM Director addition. Right now there are about a dozen integrations and best practices on the page with more to come through the summer:

CA supports LDoms also

Seems CA beat Scalent's announcement by one day! See their 9th June Press Release. CA Advanced Systems Management (CA ASM) added support for Sun's Logical Domains (LDOM). So what are they doing?
CA is currently the only management vendor to offer support for Sun's LDOM platform, which is a significant option for customers interested in Sun server consolidation initiatives. This support enables discovery and administration of the Sun virtual platform. It also offers performance and event management as well as dynamic reconfiguration of virtual resources.
Great to CA endorsing LDoms as well as Scalent.

Sunday Jun 15, 2008

Scalent announces support for CoolThreads and LDoms

Scalent recently announced support not only of Sun's highly innovative CoolThreads Servers including the latest T5140 and T5240 but also for LDoms the CoolThreads Hypervisor. More details can be found here. With all the noise about x64 hypervisors its worth remembering the arguments for LDoms can be pretty compelling - especially on the budget! I'm sure Scalent won't mind me quoting them:
LDoms is a powerful, open source, hardware virtualization and partitioning technology, and is provided as standard at no extra cost on UltraSPARC T1, T2 and T2 Plus-based servers. The latest SPARC Enterprise T5140 and T5240 servers can support up to 128 LDoms per server, with superb granularity, all at no cost. Unlike proprietary virtualization technologies, LDoms can save customers up to $3,600 per system.

Sun xVM OC 1.1 Released

Congratulations to the Sun xVM Ops Center team for quickly following up their 1.0 release with the new 1.1 Further details of this release can be found at the pages for 1.1 In addition to the wiki page the xVM teams VP Steve Wilson has a regular blog "Virtual Steve" which is probably as good a place as any to keep right up with what is happening on the xVM front.

Welcome IBM Director to Sun 3rd party integrations

The Sun 3rd party ISV Integration team have been very busy lately complementing the work of the Sun xVM Ops Center team by adding more 3rd party integrations. Latest is an integration enabling Sun systems to work well with IBM's Director. The platforms included in the first 1.0 integration, with more to follow in the next release, are:
  • Sun Fire X2100 M2, X2200 M2
  • Sun Fire X4100, X4100 M2, X4150, X4200, X4200 M2
  • Sun Fire X4500, X4600, X4600 M2
  • Sun Blade X6220, X6250, T6300, T6320 Server Modules
  • Sun Blade X8400, X8420, X8440 Server Modules
  • Sun SPARC Enterprise T1000, T2000 Server
  • Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120, T5220 Server
  • Sun Netra X4200 M2 Server

Some ILOM resources

As Sun's ILOM (Integrated Lights Out Manager) Service Processor becomes increasingly prevalent across both the x64 and CoolThreads servers it is perhaps worth providing a quick summary of some of the resources to get started. For those of you wondering which features come as standard and which are a premium - its simple, all features are enabled for free. Early Intel adopters will also be pleased to know we'll be providing them a pretty painless firmware upgrade path over the coming months to that ILOM goodness.

System Management topics with a primarily focus on managing Sun systems, storage, software and of course operating systems.


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